By: Jovica Grey, LMHC, NCC
Many things go back to early childhood experiences. We learn what a “normal” relationship looks like based on the relationship that our parents or caregivers illustrated growing up. If we grew up in a very dysfunctional home, more than likely, we will learn to identify this as “normal” – I like to call it “dysfunctional normal”. I remember growing up and never having my father in my life; then when my mom did get married to a man, he was very abusive and toxic. Nevertheless, what did I learn from this experience? That my tolerance would be very high for dysfunction compared to other women who grew up in a normal family household. Many women will attempt to find relationships that are similar to the family environment that they were exposed to growing up and not intentionally, but if that was your normal, how would you be able to identify what a healthy normal would look like? We have a tendency to repeat/ model what we were exposed to. What is even more interesting is, your tolerance to accept unhealthy treatment from your partner because you may feel as though you are not deserving of healthy love.
Women who struggle with dating toxic men, tend to repeat this pattern by entering into one toxic relationship after the next. Ever ask yourself, “why do I keep dating the same type of men”? Well, that’s because you continue to attract those same unhealthy men that have the same characteristics. It may even go as further as love addiction and codependency where you develop these unhealthy attachment to your point of contact ( term used in addiction) and find it almost impossible to end the relationship despite recognizing or not recognizing how unhealthy it may be. Furthermore, breaking the cycle from toxic relationships can be very difficult because as one can experience withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction, such individual may experience similar physical and emotional symptoms as well from ending a toxic relationship. The amazing thing is that there are treatment options available to address these issues that include individual therapy to explore family dynamics that play a role, pattern of unhealthy relationships, increasing self-esteem and support groups with other individuals who struggle with this issue as well.
I believe that early childhood experiences play a major role in our lives as adults. If we were neglected , lacked nurture and support; this affects our ability to have meaningful and healthy relationships and impair our self-esteem and self-worth. I utilize an integrative approach in therapy based on each individual’s needs; however when working with these issues, I often utilize inner child work and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Jovica Grey is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Certified Counselor who has 5+ years experience in the field of addictions and co-occurring disorders. She is also an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) trained therapist who work with individuals who have experienced trauma such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), complex trauma and sexual abuse. Moreover, Ms. Grey work with individuals, couples and families and focuses on issues such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, trauma, anger management, women issues, emotional disturbances and other life stressors. Her specialty areas of interest includes love and sex addiction, codependency and relationship conflict.
Check out her blog on love addiction: http://lovejunkiestherapy.blogspot.com
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